I just finished Arika Okrent’s In the Land of Invented Languages
April 13, 2011
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In the Land of Invented Languages
Since I have been somewhat of an esperantist since the age of fourteen, have studied Ido and Blissymbolics in a cursory fashion and would love to study Volapük as well someday, I was very attracted to this book the moment I heard it was being published.
Arika Okrent, a doctor (Ph.D.) of Linguistics, has done a thorough job at “classifying” the invented languages throughout the years and giving a compelling background of the more important and interesting conlangs (constructed languages in general like Loglan or Lojban), auxlangs (auxiliary languages like Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua or Volapük) and artlangs (artificial languages such as Klingon or J.R.R. Tolkien’s Quenya language his elves spoke). Arika did the hard yards during her research in that she learned Esperanto and Klingon at least to basic level, studied Láadan and Lojban and done fieldwork into their speakers’ communities. She attended several gatherings of Esperantists, Klingon speakers (and wannabes) as well as Logbanists and presented thoughtful observations about her experiences. I found the distinct cultures growing up in Esperantujo (Esperanto Land) and in the “Klingon community” that Okrent described to be truly fascinating, especially when taking into account that Esperanto is spoken for altruistic reasons whereas people who learn Klingon do it as a high form of intellectual hobby, an impassioned this language for language’s sake mantra. If you are a language geek like me you will get lost in this book.